By Jeremiah Agada
Despite the strides that have been made in improving gender parity, the world is still years away from achieving gender equality. Female employers still find it hard to break into certain jobs while many of those who get there find it difficult to shatter the glass ceiling and make it to the apex of their careers. In fact, women continue to be underrepresented in senior management roles.
The United Nations had observed that women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes and low levels of education. It however noted, “Individual women have overcome these obstacles with great acclaim, and often to the benefit of society at large. But for women as a whole, the playing field needs to be level, opening opportunities for all.”
Perhaps, it is the need to foster inclusive workplaces respect and protect the principles of fairness, dignity, diversity and respect for all employers that led to the selection of ‘Better the balance, better world’ theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. Promoting equality for all employees should be a core focus for any business, with wide-ranging benefits for the company and employees.
Thus, being an equal opportunity employer also helps build brand reputation and build loyalty to the business within the community and among employees. Research from the Academy of Management Review found that loyalty and pride in an organisation are strongly correlated with a sense of belonging within the group. Key constituents of an organisation recognise genuine efforts to achieve equality and will actively maintain and strengthen their relationship with the brand.
For a company like Multichoice Nigeria, this is a policy it has been working for years. The Chief Executive Officer of the Pay TV giant, John Ugbe said as much when he asserted that the company is committed to empowering women and championing gender equality in the industry. Ugbe said that late last year at the maiden edition of Women in Advertising Cocktail in Lagos, where he joined some of the most influential ladies in media and advertising for a panel discussion that lasted four hours.
‘‘From having a senior management team of an almost equal gender split, to actively putting in place programmes which celebrate gender equality, MultiChoice Nigeria has been extremely progressive in numerous ways. Some of our most important operations are headed by very brilliant, hardworking women who, I must say, give the men a run for their money,” he said.
Speaking on MultiChoice Nigeria’s impressive female to male ratio in the senior management team, Ugbe acknowledged that this ratio is not a common feature with companies of MultiChoice’s calibre in this part of the world but emphasized why having women on the management team is extremely beneficial to the company. According to him, ‘‘women are finishers, more detail-oriented and often more emotionally intelligent than their male colleagues; this is why MultiChoice is constantly looking for female talent that add value and contributes meaningfully.’’
True enough, Multichoice boasts of some of the industry’s finest female professionals at positions that many will not consider a place for female employees.
One of such professionals is Busola Tejumola. With an impressive 14 years of experience, she had worked at MWeb and iWay Africa.
Busola is a seasoned professional with hands-on experience in Commercial, IT, business development, insights, strategy, Content and Production. She is at present the executive head of content for Multichoice Nigeria. In her current capacity, she is responsible for the end-to-end development and execution of content strategy for Multichoice Nigeria and ensuring alignment to the overall content strategy for Multichoice Africa.
Based on her remarkable and consistent performance to business growth, Busola grew from Head of Strategy and Insights in 2014 to GM Production in 2017 where she led the team that re-birth Big Brother Naija, the award winning AMVCA’s, along with original productions from the Africa Magic stables like Battleground, Jemeji and Ajoche. Prior to her career in MultiChoice, she worked in MWeb Nigeria and iWay Africa as Head of Technical Support and Chief Relationship and Business Development Manager.
She holds a Masters’ degree in Management information Systems, and a Ph.D in Management Information Systems & Computing from the University of Surrey and Brunel University respectively. Her passion, strategic track record of leading effective teams and drive for results, has translated into the success of key projects in MultiChoice Nigeria. She is married, and the marriage is blessed with two boys.
Yet another female professional in its ranks is Atinuke Babatunde. Atinuke Babatunde is the Head of Channels for Africa Magic Showcase, Africa Magic Urban and Africa Magic Epic where she oversees the activities of the three channels by determining the Channels’ strategy in accordance with audience changes.
She is a graduate of Botany with a 2nd Class Upper Division degree from the University of Ilorin. She also holds an MSc degree from the University of Lagos and an Executive MBA from the Lagos Business School where she graduated with distinctions in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Strategy.
She started her career in Research with Direct Market Communications and moved to a South African Startup, MediaTrak that pioneered Electronic Media Monitoring agency in Nigeria as the Admin Manager before leaving as the Client Service Director a few years later.
She joined Vmobile (Now Airtel) as the 1st Media Monitoring Specialist, a role where she started the media monitoring department and was responsible for the monitoring of all ATL (Television, Outdoor, Radio and Press) activities for the brand, tracking the media delivery budget across all media – planned versus actual as well as monitor and anticipate competitive activities in the areas of media options. In this role, she saved the organization over $15 million based on astute monitoring activities and she left in 2014 as the senior brand manager after working as part of the team that handled all the various rebranding exercise of the organization.
She was a participant at the Africa Brand Conference in London, United Kingdom and also a participant in a tour organized by Lagos Business School and University of Wisconsin in Illinois, Chicago where participants engaged with several startups, multinationals, public sectors and Universities to learn global best practices across sectors. She has travelled extensively for trainings and workshops within and outside the country.
She is one of the 200 women selected into the 1st Cohort of the Africa Women Entrepreneurs Cooperative (AWEC) out of an application of 2300 from 52 Africa countries. She is a certified marketer, an associate member, National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) and an associate member Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).
She is a mentor at the Light House Women Network and a Member of the Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ).
Also in Multichoice is Wangi Mba-Uzokwu, its Channel Director for Africa Magic. Wangi who is a Board Member has had over 20 years of experience working at British American Tobacco, Coca-Cola and Airtel Nigeria before she joined the company.
Having transitioned from a degree in political science to the brand and marketing industry, Wangi has built a solid career in the field of brand marketing; having served as Senior Group Brand Manager, Strategic Marketing Manager as well as Head of Brand and Marketing in British American Tobacco, Coca-Cola and Airtel respectively.
As Regional Manager of Africa Magic, she was instrumental to the growth of content and actualization of initiatives such as Africa Magic GO, the Africa Magic Video on Demand service, Africa Magic Igbo channel and the Africa Magic Original Films project – an initiative that provides a platform for showcasing original premium African titles.
Under her leadership in Africa Magic, customers have enjoyed a more robust and exciting range of content that satisfy a variety of entertainment interests. She is currently the Channel Director, Africa Magic.
‘Take A Girl Student To Work’ Initiative.
Outside this, Multichoice Nigeria understands the place of empowering the girl child for future challenges and positioning her for leadership opportunities in the society. That is why for years, it had been empowering undergraduates from different higher institutions of learning by exposing them to work reality in the fields of sales, corporate communications, marketing, operations and the practical aspect of its business, under its ‘Take a Girl Student to Work’ initiative.
The objective is not only to visit but also to interact with professionals in their field of work so as to give the learner a hands-on experience in a work environment and to expose her to different career options available in the market place. The goal of the initiative is also to deepen the thinking of the young female student with regards to her boundless roles in society, enhance her self-esteem, inspire and motivate her to reach her full potential and through exposure to diverse careers and positive role models to assist her to prepare for the task ahead.
It organised the programme in partnership with the South African High Commission and the South African Chamber of Commerce as part of activities to commemorate the World Women’s Day each year.
When it started some years ago, the then Head of Public Relations for Multichoice, Segun Fayose, explained how it started. “It started in 2009 when South Africa celebrated women’s day and every August 9 is declared a public holiday in the country to celebrate women. South African women contributed to the struggle for their liberation. In Nigeria, they made initiative to empower the female child which is a week-long programme to get exposed to work environment. It always involves the final year students where they spend the whole day to have exposure in different units, have practical with us as well as with our contact centres,” he had remarked.
He explained that the project is an annual social corporate investment event and a constructive way of positively contributing to the global efforts to address challenges faced by young women, particularly African women and “the girl child.”
It was envisaged that young female students will get the opportunity to spend a day at work by visiting corporate offices, government departments, and many other businesses across the Lagos. The objective is not only to visit but also to interact with professionals in their field of work to give the learner a hands-on experience in a work environment, and to expose her to different career options available in the market place. Specifically, the goal of the project was to “deepen the thinking of the young female student with regards to her boundless roles in the society, enhance her self-esteem, inspire and motivate her to reach her full potential and through exposure to diverse careers and positive role models to assist her to prepare for the world of work,” the Pay TV provider said.
The organisers added that part of the objectives was to fight the menace of women underdevelopment, assist in the development of a bottom-up orientated type of women empowerment, publicly highlight the benevolence and commitment of participating companies to making a difference in challenges faced by women and building dialogue between the young female students and the world of workplace through the participating companies.
At the 2015 edition of the initiative, Multichoice further broaden the scope of the programme to further include female undergraduates from schools like Babcock University, Ilisan Remo, Ogun State; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife; Bowen University, Osogbo; Yaba College of Technology, among others.
The impact of this initiative on beneficiaries is multifaceted. Vanessa Mbamala, an undergraduate who was then studying Cell Biology and Genetics at the University of Lagos described the initiative as very exposing. “I’m excited to be part of the programme. It has opened me up to know that women can attain leadership position in their field unlike when women were always sidelined and relegated to the kitchen. This programme is an eye-opener.”
Adamu Mary Ehi of the same department had this to say, “The concept was to bring us to work environment to help us know what to face ahead. It has helped me to know that there’s a world out there outside school and that it’s possible to be a career woman and combine everything successfully. As a science-based student, it has helped to broaden my views on other disciplines, to know that my course is not a barrier and to also know that we shouldn’t be closed minded but open to other opportunities.”
On her part, Omolola Omotokun, who was a final year of Mass Communication also from the institution said the programme has assisted her to improve her drive to achieve in life. “This initiative is awesome. We were told about some things we already knew and it has helped us to improve our personal skills and drive to achieve in life. Through this programme we have been taught to convince ourselves that our idea will work even when others are trying to discourage us that it won’t. I also learnt that when one fails, one should not stay in the shadow but pick herself up. I won’t leave this place the same person. From what I’ve learnt, I will build on my skills and share the knowledge learnt with others that didn’t have the opportunity to attend,” she said.
Another student of the Department of International Law and Diplomacy, Babcock University, Miss Christwealth Jedidiah, said the experience was fun. “I have never had an idea of the workplace. Being at MultiChoice, I realised that there is more to it. I wanted to become a diplomat and after my interactions, I want to do something that I have a tangible experience in,” she enthused.
Interestingly, since the commencement of the initiative, MultiChoice Nigeria has employed five beneficiaries who are today permanent staff of the company.
This initiative simply proves that education alone is not enough empowerment for women. True, education improves the social well-being and responsive impacts of girls in any society. It builds her sense of logical thinking; it establishes the ability for the female gender to engage critical reasoning and discover the tools and necessary arguments that can be used to reinforce her opinions and back up her claims. Initiative like these are icing on the cake in their empowerment.
‘Take a girl to work’ is also education and education cannot be too much for the African woman because of her place and relevance in the societys. This importance is highlighted by Mozambique’s former president, Joaquim Chissano when she said: “Women and girls are Africa’s greatest untapped resource, and it is they, not diamonds or oil and minerals, that will be the foundation for solid, sustainable and equitable progress. Health and development experts, economists, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies and even banks agree that expanding the freedoms, the education and opportunities for women holds the key to kick-starting inclusive economic growth. This is true the world over, and particularly true for Africa.”